Polls opened this morning in Louisiana’s runoff race at 7 am and won’t close until 8 pm CT today, but there isn’t really much suspense in the final act of the midterms. By all indications, Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy will cruise to victory and send Mary Landrieu back home (in a manor of speaking, if you’ll pardon the pun). The final days of Landrieu’s Senate career have been marked with so much incoherence and backtracking that it’s still not clear whether she’ll even get to 40% today, even while deploying desperation tactics. That would be a mightily embarrassing tumble for a three-term incumbent, but not much of a surprise; even the media seems determined to bury Mary.

At least a few people still hold out hope. For instance, the Times-Picayune endorsed Landrieu today and made a more intelligible case for re-election than Landrieu has managed in months. Unfortunately, the case rests on a bill passed by a Republican-controlled Congress and two more recent minor bills that had only a moderate impact on her constituency:

Her Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which passed in 2006, achieved something Louisiana leaders had tried for decades to do: Require the federal government to give our state and other energy-producing states a significant share of revenues from offshore drilling. By 2017, the act will provide an estimated $500 million each year for restoring Louisiana’s coast. …

She played a key role in writing and passing the Restore Act, which will ensure that the vast majority of BP’s fines for the 2010 oil spill will go to coastal restoration — with Louisiana in line for the largest share. Her leadership and ability to work with Republican colleagues in other Gulf states was essential to the act’s approval.

She also wrote provisions into law allowing FEMA to forgive community disaster loans, which eliminated $391 million in post-Katrina debt for parish governments. In the past year, $54.8 million in loans for Jefferson Parish, $67.8 million for St. Tammany Parish schools and $24.4 million for the St. Tammany sheriff and parish government were wiped off the books thanks to her efforts.

At least that’s a rational case for Landrieu, if laughably weak. Instead of sticking with that kind of argument, though, Landrieu tried telling a Louisiana radio host that she voted for ObamaCare as defense against Obama. Landrieu tells Jeff Crouere that her vote was all that stood between Louisiana and a government-imposed single-payer system. In the process, she belittles Crouere’s education for not recognizing her superior intellect. The conversation started at 7:30 in the segment, most of which is captured in the YouTube:

L: I voted for the Affordable Care Act. I did not vote for Obama. I voted for the Affordable Care Act for Louisiana —

C: His signature legislation? That’s his signature legislation, his #1 accomplishment.

L: That is such baloney! You know what his signature legislation was?

C: I think it was ObamaCare.

L: [crosstalk] Jeff —

C: When the history books are written, they’re going to say ObamaCare in the first paragraph, Senator. You know that.

L: Jeff, Jeff — Where did you go to high school?

C: De La Salle.

L: Okay. The brothers at De La Salle would teach you to read. Do you know what his signature education, I mean signature health care plan was? It was single payer! Don’t you remember? The liberals in the Congress, including President Obama, the liberals wanted single payer.

C: Right.

L: You ever heard of that?

C: Yes, yes yes — [crosstalk]

L: Do you know what single payer means? Now you tell me, you tell me the truth. Did not President Obama want single payer? Yes or no? [crosstalk]

C: Ah, he did, he did, he did, I’m sure he did, yeah.

L: Did you know that I said no to single payer? That’s what President Obama wanted, Jeff!

C: But the Affordable Care act did — [crosstalk] What passed, Senator, was not wanted by the American people, was not wanted by the people of Louisiana, so again you did something we didn’t want.

After haggling over Crouere’s abilities as a host and his education at De La Salle, Landrieu returns to her pitch:

L: What was the President’s plan for health care? Was it sig — was it single payer, yes or no?

C: That was probably his dream.

L: Yes. And that was his proposal. That was Obama’s proposal. And you know what happened, Jeff? That’s what the liberals wanted. That’s what Obama wanted. They wanted single payer.  And you are smart enough, and the brothers at Dr La Salle taught you well enough, to know that.

That’s almost clinically insane. Yes, we all knew that progressives wanted to push single payer — but they never proposed it. Landrieu is flat-out lying when she claims Obama proposed a single payer plan; in fact, Obama and the White House never actually put together a plan at all, a hands-off strategy that drew tons of criticism from progressives and conservatives alike. That became such an issue that the White House finally promised a plan would come soon in September 2009, but never actually materialized.

Single-payer was part of the discussion, but only dishonestly, and not for long. We knew that they wanted the public option as a stalking horse to get it — but that disappeared from the ACA months before the final version passed. Landrieu now wants to argue that the ACA was a defeat for Obama and the only way to stop single payer, when single payer had as much chance of passing Congress in 2010 as a repeal of the 16th Amendment will in the next two years.

If Landrieu wanted to thwart Obama, she had a very easy way to do it:

Nor does the dishonesty end there. The AP hasn’t been impressed with her “mishmash of topics” in campaign messaging, either:

“It’s been very difficult because (Republicans) have been successful in a number of states by saying, ‘Obama bad, therefore vote against your own senator.’ And that’s what they’ve said here,” said Democratic former Louisiana Sen. John Breaux. “That shouldn’t be the issue in the race. It should be whether or not Mary’s done a good job for the state. I think she’s done incredible things for the state.”

But Landrieu has not stuck solely to that idea, throwing an assortment of messages at Louisiana voters as she tries to hang onto the last statewide Democratic-held seat in the Deep South. Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Kay Hagan of North Carolina went down in defeat Nov. 4 after being pummeled by similar Republican-driven, anti-Obama strategies. …

Meanwhile, Landrieu’s advertising — like her constantly-shifting talking points — is a mishmash of topics.

While she’s distanced herself from Obama in most appearances, Landrieu’s running ads on radio stations that cater to black listeners saying Republicans have disrespected the president and urging people to vote for Landrieu “so she can help our president continue to do the great job he is doing.”

A different radio spot from her campaign suggests the Senate race isn’t about the president at all, but should be about Landrieu’s record and her seniority: “We’re not voting for Obama. We’re voting for us and our future,” a woman says to her husband.

Remember that Landrieu claimed that Cassidy disrespected the President by referring to Obama by his last name instead of his title — and then re-read that transcript I provided above to see the hypocrisy. When Landrieu wants to distance herself from the President, he’s “Obama.” When she wants to curry favor among his dwindling supporters, he’s “our President.” Looks like Landrieu is suffering from a bad case of projection.

Speaking of projections, expect to see Landrieu put out of her misery early in the count. If the media doesn’t call this within the first 30 minutes after the polls close, either the entire state of Louisiana fell into a sinkhole or the media decided to take a late-evening nap.

Update, 8:07 CT: AoSHQ has already called it for Cassidy, and predicts … pain for Landrieu:

The early vote broke hard to Cassidy. We’ll see if that trend stays true.

Update, 8:26 pm CT: This is about 25 minutes late:

Congratulations to Senator-elect Bill Cassidy.

Update: For the record …